Where to Eat and Drink in West Town

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A sandwiches packed with meat and peppers on a French roll.
Ever heard of Kasama?
Garrett Sweet/Eater

Experience some of the best spots the city has to offer

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Ever heard of Kasama?
| Garrett Sweet/Eater

West Town continues to add restaurants to one of the strongest neighborhoods for food in the city. There’s wonderful culinary diversity as owners crave a more affordable alternative to West Loop where corporate interests have helped real estate prices soar. In many minds,

Chicago Avenue has replaced Randolph Restaurant Row as the city’s main food drag. While that’s debatable, one of West Town’s assets is that great eats aren’t confined to a single street. Below find Eater Chicago’s favorites in the area.

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Chicago is home to dozens of excellent steakhouses but few provide an experience similar to Boeufhaus. Instead of steakhouse staples, the small French-German-inspired brasserie touts dishes such as short rib beignets, ceci bean cavatelli, and country pâté. The ribeyes are dry-aged for 55 days, giving them intense beefy flavor, while the lunch menu is heavy on sandwiches like the “Boeuf on Weck,” a Buffalo, New York specialty featuring slow-roasted beef, horseradish, caraway, sea salt, and jus on a Kummelweck roll.

The first Filipino restaurant to earn a Michelin Star doesn’t take prisoners. You’ll need a reservation for dinner — months in advance. It’s a tasting menu experience with dishes like adobo squab. The breakfast and lunch features silog, a Pinoy shaved pork served like an Italian beef sandwich, and a variety of sweet and savory pastries. 

A sandwiches packed with meat and peppers on a French roll. Garrett Sweet/Eater

Homestyle Korean food is the name of the game at this quaint restaurant on Ashland. Staples like bulgolgi (marinated ribeye) and tteokbokki (rice cakes) are wonderful, but indulge in one of the soups and stews. These restorative broths are spicy and unique. The Army Base Stew features hot dogs, Spam, cheese, kimchi, and more.

Only one new Chicago restaurant received a star in the 2019 Michelin Guide and it was this intimate 20-seat spot in West Town. Chefs Sam Plotnick and Troy Jorge craft a tasting menu experience that puts the spotlight on progressive American cuisine. The restaurant’s commitment to sourcing seasonal ingredients is represented in its hydroponic basement garden, which provides microgreens for the kitchen.

Opart Thai House is one of Chicago’s most beloved Thai spots, walking the line of what Americans like (pad Thai), with a few dishes that take chances (the Peanut Sauce Lover is a spicy stir fry that’s one of the best dishes in the city). They’ve had a few locations but have settled in in West Town. There’s also plenty for vegans.

Dave Park and Jennifer Tran made waves running an acclaimed Korean stand (Hanbun) inside a suburban food court before deciding to close it down. The two have returned to the city in a big way with one of 2019’s biggest openings, Jeong. Taking a contemporary approach to traditional Korean flavors, Park constructs dishes like salmon tartare adorned with crème fraiche and crispy rice spheres, and tteokbokki bathing in spicy chili sauce and topped with pickled mustard and quail egg. In addition to the a la carte options, there’s also a modestly priced tasting menu as well as classic cocktails that feature Korean ingredients.

A bright sashimi dish that’s shaped like a disc. Jeong/Hahm Visuals

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Flour Power is a tiny storefront now helmed solo by mercurial chef and owner Wilson Bauer who worked fine dining jobs, including at Schwa. He’s pivoted from the pandemic practices of meal kits to concentrate on sustainability and using premium ingredients. Diners will find creative noodles with a fine dining touch. Check the restaurant’s Instagram for the daily menu. Beware, the hours are a bit erratic, so call ahead when in doubt.

Flo is a Chicago brunch classic that serves Hatch chile burgers, and southwestern-style favorites. It’s a cozy space akin to a diner, and worth becoming a regular at.

Chicago is home to the most breweries of any city in the country and that impressive lineup includes this unique botanical brewpub. Using plants and other natural ingredients, Forbidden Root offers options like strawberry basil hefeweizen, wildflower pale ale, and sparkling rosé ale.

Forbidden Root is a one of the best brewpubs in Chicago.
Marc Much/Eater Chicago

This retro coffee shop is friendly and has a killer lineup up of subs, including an Italian that has no right to be as good as it is coming from a small cafe. The decor is full of TVs and 16-bit and 8-bit video game systems that patrons can play. They’re also open until 7 p.m., which is rare for a coffee shop.

Probably the most family-friendly pizzeria in Chicago — they even give kids pizza dough to play with. The pizza is so-called “Quad Cities” style with malted crust and cut into strips. The beer list is deep, and there are those famous fried mozzarella sticks.

Bonhomme Hospitality Group’s boho-chic restaurant and bar has been one of the area’s most buzzed-about places since its opening in 2017. The beautiful interior is decorated with lush greenery, glittering chandeliers, fine rugs, and comfy seating. An enclosed courtyard with a retractable skylight lets diners bathe in natural light, regardless of season, while enjoying creative cocktails and Mediterranean-inspired dishes.

The suburban brothers behind Lao Peng You have shared family recipes with Chicago that make up one of the most special Chinese restaurant in Chicago. The dumplings, which come in a slightly sour broth, are the highlight. Look for rotating specials, and the lamb bing bread is addictive.

This Puerto Ricon icon continues to serve jibaritos, empanadas, and plantains to generations. It’s a divey space that’s great for lunch or early dinners. The garlic sauce will ward off vampires.

This red sauce Italian classic has found a new location. It’s a family-friendly affair that is a community favorite with pasta, salads, and pizza. The menu doesn’t push boundaries, but the service and atmosphere more than makeup for it. 

Oggi Trattoria

One of Chicago’s best hot dog stands has since opened a second location in Lincoln Park. While the original in West Town doesn’t have a liquor license, the burgers and dogs that made the operation special remain intact.

The star of the menu at this suburban import is Nashville hot chicken, and the temperature is not for the weak. The sandwiches are crunch and moist. The space, the former Mexique, never got a chance to develop a rhythm pre-pandemic, but there’s a full bar inside.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Sometimes diners want pad Thai. And while the trusted dish can be satisfying, J.J. Thai Street Food is a delightful reminder that there’s more to Thai cuisine in American than the standbys. Find Thai delights from pork sausage, Tiger cry, and fun noodle dishes. Try something new.

Sushi excellence is on full display at this Michelin Bib Gourmand recipient. Guests who want the complete experience can opt for the omakase options that feature some of the most premium ingredients.

This pan Latin restaurant has a little bit for everyone with appetizers like empanadas and tasty steak and pork chop options. They have a full bar and are family-friendly. Good for groups and for folks looking for someone different.

One of the best wine shops in the city is also a palace of cured meats and fine cheeses. The sandwiches are top notch (get the smashed bean sandwich), and there’s asolid dinner meal with an underrated smash burger. Also, don’t forget the goat cheese curds and the best party mix ever. Get a bag of Crunch Party and a bottle of wine for a nice day at home.

One of Chicago’s best deep-dish pizzerias recently opened up a second location. This small spot also sells pizza by the slice. The crust is buttery, but not the soggy sponges like some inferior pies offers. 

Aya Fukai’s genius is at play in West Town where her pastries have soared in popularity. From doughnuts that taste like Girl Scout cookies, to pizza dough for the home cook, Aya Pastry has become one of the city’s most indispensable businesses. Order to go.

Peruse the aisles for Italian goods at this grocer and deli and then head to the back of the store for a bite. The Italian sub is a favorite, while the beef sandwich is a contender for the best version in town. The tender, thick-cut meat is further improved with the addition of extra-spicy giardiniera. The meatballs are also top notch. Grab some to go for an easy weekday dinner.

Known for its bread — which caused a family spat with neighboring Italian grocer and sub shop Bari — D’Amato’s provides a taste of the old world with great cookies, tiramisu, and more. The bakery also sells sandwiches, but the sheet pizza is a more attractive meal option.

Elina’s is a BYO Italian restaurant with a succinct menu inside a tiny space. There’s more of a chef’s touch here compared to many of the other Italian spots in the area. Find fresh pasta, chicken Parmesan, and more. It’s a spot that will impress diners on dates and for picky eaters who don’t like fancy spots. This is a restaurant that will fool them.

chicken parmesan Garrett Sweet

Chicago’s sandwich scene received a big boost with the opening of this deli and eatery in 2017. Father-son duo Agostino and Tony Fiasche, who also operate Nduja Artisans Salumeria, are making terrific sandwiches filled with quality meats and cheeses. The signature nduja is a spicy spreadable sausage from the Calabria region of Italy and on the Dante sandwich, it’s whipped up into an aioli and layered with hot soppressata, mortadella, finnochinoa, hot coppa, porchetta, and more.

Chicago’s enjoyed a recent surge in Filipino restaurant openings. Before that wave, Uncle Mike’s Place had been proudly serving Filipino-style breakfast which is delicious on its own merits, but even more valuable to those who prefer savory over sweet for their morning meals. This might be the best skirt steak in Chicago.

This bar, a short walk from the United Center, wasn’t the most friendly until recently when owners realized it was sitting on a gold mine thanks to its chicken wing recipes. Output’s wings are among the best in the city, and the classic Buffalo style is hard to beat.

One of the city’s best pizzerias for thin crust, Coal Fire continues to deliver. The honey and salumi pie is a favorite, as is the lasagna pie.

Greg Wade is a James Beard Award-winning baker and at PQB he has a dedicated store front for his loaves of breads, pastries, and a few sandwiches. There’s no indoor seating, but there’s some on the sidewalk. Get there early and makes sure you make plans for the ridiculous Big Sandwich which has limited availability. 

A man stands behind a bakery counter loaded with pastry and sandwiches. Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Diego is a love letter to San Diego and Baja med cuisine. Find delightful cocktails and a great burrito and this small bar with a sizeable patio. Look for more from chef Stephen Sandoval in the coming months.

The exterior of Diego, a bar in West Town. Ashok Selvam/Eater Chicago

Step into a time warp while visiting Mart Anthony’s, a classic Chicago dive. Red sauce lovers will enjoy the cooking here, and the bar provides neighborhood ambience. For fans of venerable Sabatino’s, an Italian restaurant that closed in 2019, find solace that one of the eatery’s chefs has found new work at Mart Anthony’s.

American breakfast items with a Mexican touch is what Breakfast Club specializes in, giving West Town a great option for those who want brunch during the week. And for a city that’s lacking in breakfast sandwich selections, Breakfast Club’s variety satisfies.

Lillie’s Q pitmaster Charlie McKenna relocated his business from Bucktown to District Brew Yards, the beer loves pour-it-yourself paradise. McKenna’s Memphis-style meats pair well with the beer. Find ribs, brisket, and fried chicken. McKenna has found success peddling his sauces to retailers. Don’t forget to grab a bottle.

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Chicago is home to dozens of excellent steakhouses but few provide an experience similar to Boeufhaus. Instead of steakhouse staples, the small French-German-inspired brasserie touts dishes such as short rib beignets, ceci bean cavatelli, and country pâté. The ribeyes are dry-aged for 55 days, giving them intense beefy flavor, while the lunch menu is heavy on sandwiches like the “Boeuf on Weck,” a Buffalo, New York specialty featuring slow-roasted beef, horseradish, caraway, sea salt, and jus on a Kummelweck roll.

The first Filipino restaurant to earn a Michelin Star doesn’t take prisoners. You’ll need a reservation for dinner — months in advance. It’s a tasting menu experience with dishes like adobo squab. The breakfast and lunch features silog, a Pinoy shaved pork served like an Italian beef sandwich, and a variety of sweet and savory pastries. 

A sandwiches packed with meat and peppers on a French roll. Garrett Sweet/Eater

Homestyle Korean food is the name of the game at this quaint restaurant on Ashland. Staples like bulgolgi (marinated ribeye) and tteokbokki (rice cakes) are wonderful, but indulge in one of the soups and stews. These restorative broths are spicy and unique. The Army Base Stew features hot dogs, Spam, cheese, kimchi, and more.

Only one new Chicago restaurant received a star in the 2019 Michelin Guide and it was this intimate 20-seat spot in West Town. Chefs Sam Plotnick and Troy Jorge craft a tasting menu experience that puts the spotlight on progressive American cuisine. The restaurant’s commitment to sourcing seasonal ingredients is represented in its hydroponic basement garden, which provides microgreens for the kitchen.

Opart Thai House is one of Chicago’s most beloved Thai spots, walking the line of what Americans like (pad Thai), with a few dishes that take chances (the Peanut Sauce Lover is a spicy stir fry that’s one of the best dishes in the city). They’ve had a few locations but have settled in in West Town. There’s also plenty for vegans.

Dave Park and Jennifer Tran made waves running an acclaimed Korean stand (Hanbun) inside a suburban food court before deciding to close it down. The two have returned to the city in a big way with one of 2019’s biggest openings, Jeong. Taking a contemporary approach to traditional Korean flavors, Park constructs dishes like salmon tartare adorned with crème fraiche and crispy rice spheres, and tteokbokki bathing in spicy chili sauce and topped with pickled mustard and quail egg. In addition to the a la carte options, there’s also a modestly priced tasting menu as well as classic cocktails that feature Korean ingredients.

A bright sashimi dish that’s shaped like a disc. Jeong/Hahm Visuals

Flour Power is a tiny storefront now helmed solo by mercurial chef and owner Wilson Bauer who worked fine dining jobs, including at Schwa. He’s pivoted from the pandemic practices of meal kits to concentrate on sustainability and using premium ingredients. Diners will find creative noodles with a fine dining touch. Check the restaurant’s Instagram for the daily menu. Beware, the hours are a bit erratic, so call ahead when in doubt.

Flo is a Chicago brunch classic that serves Hatch chile burgers, and southwestern-style favorites. It’s a cozy space akin to a diner, and worth becoming a regular at.

Chicago is home to the most breweries of any city in the country and that impressive lineup includes this unique botanical brewpub. Using plants and other natural ingredients, Forbidden Root offers options like strawberry basil hefeweizen, wildflower pale ale, and sparkling rosé ale.

Forbidden Root is a one of the best brewpubs in Chicago.
Marc Much/Eater Chicago

This retro coffee shop is friendly and has a killer lineup up of subs, including an Italian that has no right to be as good as it is coming from a small cafe. The decor is full of TVs and 16-bit and 8-bit video game systems that patrons can play. They’re also open until 7 p.m., which is rare for a coffee shop.

Probably the most family-friendly pizzeria in Chicago — they even give kids pizza dough to play with. The pizza is so-called “Quad Cities” style with malted crust and cut into strips. The beer list is deep, and there are those famous fried mozzarella sticks.

Bonhomme Hospitality Group’s boho-chic restaurant and bar has been one of the area’s most buzzed-about places since its opening in 2017. The beautiful interior is decorated with lush greenery, glittering chandeliers, fine rugs, and comfy seating. An enclosed courtyard with a retractable skylight lets diners bathe in natural light, regardless of season, while enjoying creative cocktails and Mediterranean-inspired dishes.

The suburban brothers behind Lao Peng You have shared family recipes with Chicago that make up one of the most special Chinese restaurant in Chicago. The dumplings, which come in a slightly sour broth, are the highlight. Look for rotating specials, and the lamb bing bread is addictive.

This Puerto Ricon icon continues to serve jibaritos, empanadas, and plantains to generations. It’s a divey space that’s great for lunch or early dinners. The garlic sauce will ward off vampires.

This red sauce Italian classic has found a new location. It’s a family-friendly affair that is a community favorite with pasta, salads, and pizza. The menu doesn’t push boundaries, but the service and atmosphere more than makeup for it. 

Oggi Trattoria

One of Chicago’s best hot dog stands has since opened a second location in Lincoln Park. While the original in West Town doesn’t have a liquor license, the burgers and dogs that made the operation special remain intact.

The star of the menu at this suburban import is Nashville hot chicken, and the temperature is not for the weak. The sandwiches are crunch and moist. The space, the former Mexique, never got a chance to develop a rhythm pre-pandemic, but there’s a full bar inside.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Sometimes diners want pad Thai. And while the trusted dish can be satisfying, J.J. Thai Street Food is a delightful reminder that there’s more to Thai cuisine in American than the standbys. Find Thai delights from pork sausage, Tiger cry, and fun noodle dishes. Try something new.

Sushi excellence is on full display at this Michelin Bib Gourmand recipient. Guests who want the complete experience can opt for the omakase options that feature some of the most premium ingredients.

This pan Latin restaurant has a little bit for everyone with appetizers like empanadas and tasty steak and pork chop options. They have a full bar and are family-friendly. Good for groups and for folks looking for someone different.

One of the best wine shops in the city is also a palace of cured meats and fine cheeses. The sandwiches are top notch (get the smashed bean sandwich), and there’s asolid dinner meal with an underrated smash burger. Also, don’t forget the goat cheese curds and the best party mix ever. Get a bag of Crunch Party and a bottle of wine for a nice day at home.

One of Chicago’s best deep-dish pizzerias recently opened up a second location. This small spot also sells pizza by the slice. The crust is buttery, but not the soggy sponges like some inferior pies offers. 

Aya Fukai’s genius is at play in West Town where her pastries have soared in popularity. From doughnuts that taste like Girl Scout cookies, to pizza dough for the home cook, Aya Pastry has become one of the city’s most indispensable businesses. Order to go.

Peruse the aisles for Italian goods at this grocer and deli and then head to the back of the store for a bite. The Italian sub is a favorite, while the beef sandwich is a contender for the best version in town. The tender, thick-cut meat is further improved with the addition of extra-spicy giardiniera. The meatballs are also top notch. Grab some to go for an easy weekday dinner.

Known for its bread — which caused a family spat with neighboring Italian grocer and sub shop Bari — D’Amato’s provides a taste of the old world with great cookies, tiramisu, and more. The bakery also sells sandwiches, but the sheet pizza is a more attractive meal option.

Elina’s is a BYO Italian restaurant with a succinct menu inside a tiny space. There’s more of a chef’s touch here compared to many of the other Italian spots in the area. Find fresh pasta, chicken Parmesan, and more. It’s a spot that will impress diners on dates and for picky eaters who don’t like fancy spots. This is a restaurant that will fool them.

chicken parmesan Garrett Sweet

Chicago’s sandwich scene received a big boost with the opening of this deli and eatery in 2017. Father-son duo Agostino and Tony Fiasche, who also operate Nduja Artisans Salumeria, are making terrific sandwiches filled with quality meats and cheeses. The signature nduja is a spicy spreadable sausage from the Calabria region of Italy and on the Dante sandwich, it’s whipped up into an aioli and layered with hot soppressata, mortadella, finnochinoa, hot coppa, porchetta, and more.

Chicago’s enjoyed a recent surge in Filipino restaurant openings. Before that wave, Uncle Mike’s Place had been proudly serving Filipino-style breakfast which is delicious on its own merits, but even more valuable to those who prefer savory over sweet for their morning meals. This might be the best skirt steak in Chicago.

This bar, a short walk from the United Center, wasn’t the most friendly until recently when owners realized it was sitting on a gold mine thanks to its chicken wing recipes. Output’s wings are among the best in the city, and the classic Buffalo style is hard to beat.

One of the city’s best pizzerias for thin crust, Coal Fire continues to deliver. The honey and salumi pie is a favorite, as is the lasagna pie.

Greg Wade is a James Beard Award-winning baker and at PQB he has a dedicated store front for his loaves of breads, pastries, and a few sandwiches. There’s no indoor seating, but there’s some on the sidewalk. Get there early and makes sure you make plans for the ridiculous Big Sandwich which has limited availability. 

A man stands behind a bakery counter loaded with pastry and sandwiches. Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Diego is a love letter to San Diego and Baja med cuisine. Find delightful cocktails and a great burrito and this small bar with a sizeable patio. Look for more from chef Stephen Sandoval in the coming months.

The exterior of Diego, a bar in West Town. Ashok Selvam/Eater Chicago

Step into a time warp while visiting Mart Anthony’s, a classic Chicago dive. Red sauce lovers will enjoy the cooking here, and the bar provides neighborhood ambience. For fans of venerable Sabatino’s, an Italian restaurant that closed in 2019, find solace that one of the eatery’s chefs has found new work at Mart Anthony’s.

American breakfast items with a Mexican touch is what Breakfast Club specializes in, giving West Town a great option for those who want brunch during the week. And for a city that’s lacking in breakfast sandwich selections, Breakfast Club’s variety satisfies.

Lillie’s Q pitmaster Charlie McKenna relocated his business from Bucktown to District Brew Yards, the beer loves pour-it-yourself paradise. McKenna’s Memphis-style meats pair well with the beer. Find ribs, brisket, and fried chicken. McKenna has found success peddling his sauces to retailers. Don’t forget to grab a bottle.

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